Wednesday, December 04, 2013

TV Land Pilot Review: Kirstie - Premieres Tonight; NBC Orders Second Season of The Blacklist

Kirstie

Kirstie - Wednesdays at 10:00PM ET/PT on TV Land
Premieres Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 10:00PM ET/PT


by Skees

Kirstie Alley has had her fair share of sitcom roles over the years, which of course, makes her a natural for her latest role as star of her own TV Land sitcom, Kirstie. The latest entry to TV Land's slate of original sitcoms follows Maddie Banks (Alley) as she is going through her everyday life as an award-winning stage actress, living life with her personal assistant Thelma (Rhea Pearlman) and limo driver Frank (Michael Richards)... that is, until an unexpected guest shows up outside of the stage one night, her biological 26-year-old son Arlo, who was given up for adoption after birth. Now, he's back in her life, and she is discovering what it is like to be a mother for the first time in her life.


Cast Details:
Kirstie Alley as Madison "Maddie" Banks
Rhea Perlman as Thelma Katz
Michael Richards as Frank Baxter
Eric Petersen as Arlo Barth

Kirstie Alley (Maddie Banks) got her start in television on game shows, not as a "celebrity" contestant, but just as an ordinary woman, appearing in game shows such as Password and Match Game, but it wasn't long before she moved into actual celebrity status with films such as Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Summer School, and Look Who's Talking. In 1987, she landed the role of Rebecca Howe on Cheers, for which she won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in 1991. She later appeared in the NBC series Veronica's Closet and Showtime series Fat Actress.

Rhea Pearlman (Thelma Katz) began her acting career in the 1970s, and first came known to TV viewers in 1979 with her guest appearances on Taxi, playing Zena Sherman. She became much better known in 1982 playing Carla Tortelli on Cheers, for which she won numerous awards. In 1996, she had her own short-lived sitcom, Pearl. She also appeared in several films in the 1990s, including Carpool and Matilda.

Michael Richards (Frank Baxter) is a self-described retired standup comedian who is best known for his role as Cosmo Kramer on the sitcom Seinfeld. He first came to fame for TV audiences in the ABC late-night comedy series Fridays, and guest-starred in several series throughout the 1980s including Night Court, St. Elsewhere, Cheers, Miami Vice, Hill Street Blues, and others. Following Seinfeld, he had a short-lived series, The Michael Richards Show, but has mostly been away from TV roles until now.

Eric Petersen (Arlo Barth) is a relative newcomer to acting, having made his first TV appearance as Santa Claus in As the World Turns. He has also had guest appearances on Law and Order, GCB, and Modern Family.


Pilot Plot:

"Pilot" – airs Wednesday, December 4th, 2013 at 10PM ET/PT
 
Maddie Banks has the perfect life as a wealthy stage actress without a care in the world, until she steps outside the theater one night and is approached by a stranger. Except that stranger isn't as strange as she may think. In fact, he is her biological son Arlo, whom she gave up for adoption after birth. As it turns out, Arlo's adoptive parents recently died and he wants somebody to turn to, so he turns to his biological mom for the first time in his life.

Unfortunately, this isn't exactly convenient for Maddie. To begin with, he is 26 and she chooses to be in her 30s (not that she really is, of course). While she is a very classy woman (in some respects), he works at a doughnut shop in New Jersey. In the pilot, we go through some of the trials and tribulations of newly reunited mother and son figuring out how to (or even if they want to) reconnect.

"Arlo Moves In" – airs Wednesday, December 4th, 2013 at 10:30PM ET/PT 

In the second episode of the series, Maddie ultimately opens the door to her new son, and in fact has him move in with her. Everything appears to be going just fine, until she finds a voice-recorded birthday card given to him by his adoptive mother... and accidentally destroys her voice on it. Desperate to do anything to make everything better, she recruits her acting understudy (guest star Kristin Chenoweth) to help her fix the problem, but even with one problem fixed, it seems that the door just keeps opening up to more problems in the mother-son dynamic.

"Arlo's Birthday" – airs Wednesday, December 11th, 2013 at 10PM ET/PT

Maddie is invited to Arlo's birthday party at a bar, and when he gets on stage to do a little karaoke, her motherly instincts tell her that she has a star on her hands. And with her connections, she is more than happy to match her son up with a record producer. But does he really have what it takes to be a star?

"Little Bummer Boy" – airs Wednesday, December 18th, 2013 at 10PM ET/PT

In this special Christmas episode of the series, Arlo decides to give Maddie a special gift for Christmas: a visit from her mother (guest star Cloris Leachman). It is too bad, however, that Maddie and her mother don't get along at all. Matters are made even worse by the fact that Arlo and grandmother hit it off rather well. How will anybody manage to have a merry Christmas after the dust settles in this mess?

Analysis:

I was rather pleased with the first few episodes of this series, particularly the first two episodes. One thing that I find interesting about TV Land sitcoms is that they tend to have ideas that could have been tried and true hits in the '80s and '90s, and make them work in the modern era. Too many of the sitcoms of today are too formulaic, and about somebody being in or wanting to be in some sort of romantic relationship. Granted, this is sort of a relationship as well, but it is about a mother bonding with her adult son for the first time in both of their lives. It is a premise that really hasn't been beat to death in sitcoms (or even at all, as far as I can remember).

The first two episodes were particularly great. They bring us the introduction between Maddie and Arlo, and show their first attempts to make that mother-son bond... and nothing goes quite as planned. There are many great comedy moments in these episodes, beginning the very second at which Arlo confronts Maddie, to Arlo becoming acquainted with Maddie's assistants, and of course, the doubt and skepticism that Frank seems to have about Arlo in "Arlo Moves In." The dynamics between Maddie and Arlo is a bit of an Odd Couple type of dynamic, but in a much different way.

"Arlo's Birthday" was probably the weakest of the four episodes, but it still had some great moments. In particular, it showed Maddie's first (good) efforts to be a good mother to Arlo, but the problem is that she was like most mothers, thinking that her son is better than he really is. The plot wore a bit thin, though.

It was particularly great seeing the appearance of Cloris Leachman in "Little Bummer Boy." As usual, she played her typical "bitter old woman" role (although she is much more senile in here than she is in Raising Hope), and I felt that her character added a lot to this particular episode. It seems to be up in the air as to whether or not she'll be back, but it would be nice to see her as a regular character on the show (she is currently appearing as a regular on Raising Hope, but the future of that series is constantly in question, particularly this season). She proves in the episode that she does want the best for the relationship between her daughter and grandson, showing a side of herself that isn't immediately obvious.

There are great moments in the series, including some moments that will truly make you laugh. One thing that I found a bit interesting in watching these is how the characters played by the actors on the series seem to carry over a lot of their old characters from their hit series with them. Sometimes this works, and other times it doesn't... but I really feel like this is one show where it really does work.


Conclusion:

It seems that TV Land has something good going for it, and I hope to see this one succeed. The great thing about these cable sitcoms is that they're almost always given a fair chance to succeed if things don't work out at first, but this series has an all-star cast (well, that is of big stars from past NBC hit series) and a premise that is legitimately fun to watch. I really hope to see this series go beyond the initial order of episodes, and I feel that given that it is airing on TV Land, it has a reasonable chance of doing just that. I would like to see more Cloris Leachman on here, and I somewhat feel like the cast should be expanded a bit, but I think that there are plenty of opportunities for this series to blossom throughout the season and into future seasons should it prove to be a hit with the fans.
 

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 4/5
Funniness: 3.5/5
Overall: 4/5

Discuss the show after you watch it on Wednesday, December 4 at 10:00PM ET/PT on our message board.

Related Links:



Preview:





The Blacklist

NBC has ordered a full 22-episode second season of freshman drama The Blacklist, broadcast television's No. 1 drama in the 18-49 demo fresh off of last night's substantial showing and timeslot win. The series is the fall season's breakout hit in both same day and record-setting live-plus-7 viewing. The Nov. 4 episode of The Blacklist delivered the largest total-viewer increase from live-plus same-day viewing to live-plus-7 in U.S. TV history, growing by 6.589 million (from 10.337 million to 16.926 million). The Blacklist now holds the top three increases from L+SD to L+7 among total viewers in U.S. TV history. The series stars Emmy Award winner James Spader as "Red" Reddington, a world-renown terrorist on the FBI's Most Wanted List who is helping the U.S. government catch international criminals, but for unknown reasons. The series also stars Megan Boone, Diego Klattenhoff, Harry Lennix, Ryan Eggold and Parminder Nagra. The Blacklist joins Fox's freshman series Sleepy Hollow in getting early second season orders.


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Tuesday, October 19

Tyler Perry's House of Payne - "Pow Wow at the Paynes" (BET, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Ella is hesitant to tell Lisa what she thinks about her jewelry line.

Tyler Perry's Assisted Living - "Yolo" (BET, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Philip and Sandra hatch plans to make workaholic Jeremy take a timeout for family.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 18)

Tuesday, October 19

  • Kumail Nanjiani (Bless the Harts/Silicon Valley) - Catch Kumail on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Meredith Hagner (Search Party/Men at Work) - Meredith appears on a repeat of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) - Nick is a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. He chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Nathan Lane (Only Murders in the Building/Modern Family/Charlie Lawrence/Encore! Encore!/One of the Boys) - Nathan is a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • B.J. Novak (The Office) - B.J. appears on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Eve (Eve) - Eve talks about her role in Queens on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Leah Remini (Kevin Can Wait/The Exes/Family Tools/The King of Queens/Fired Up) - Leah guest hosts The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings.
  • Ron Howard (Arrested Development/Happy Days/The Andy Griffith Show) and Clint Howard (Gung Ho) - Ron and Clint are guests on The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
  • Issa Rae (Insecure), Yvonne Orji (Insecure) and Kendrick Sampson (Insecure) - Issa, Yvonne and Kendrick talk about the final season of Insecure on Tamron Hall, so check your local listings.
  • Alicia Silverstone (American Woman) - Alicia talks about The Baby-Sitters Club on The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.
  • Melissa Joan Hart (Melissa & Joey/Sabrina, the Teenage Witch/Clueless) - Melissa is a guest on The Doctors, so check your local listings.
  • Jamie Foxx (Dad Stop Embarrassing Me!/The Jamie Foxx Show) - Jamie talks about his upcoming memoir on Access Daily, so check your local listings.
  • Alyson Hannigan (How I Met Your Mother/Free Spirit)- Alyson talks about Food Network's Outrageous Pumpkins on Access Daily, so check your local listings.
  • Justina Machado (One Day at a Time) - Justina talks about Lifetime's Switched Before Birth on NBC's Today in the 9am hour and on Access Daily, so check your local listings.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (June-October)

Head of the Class - The Complete Third Season Family Ties - The Complete Series (2021 Release) Hot in Cleveland - The Complete Series (2021 Release) Young Sheldon - The Complete Fourth Season Maude - The Complete Series (2021 Release)

06/08 - The Critic - The Complete Series
06/08 - Fuller House - The Fifth and Final Season
06/08 - Fuller House - The Complete Series
06/08 - Our Cartoon President - Season 3
06/15 - The Office - Season 1 (Blu-ray) / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9
06/15 - Parks and Recreation - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
07/07 - No Activity - Season 2
07/13 - The Unicorn - Season 2
07/20 - Head of the Class - The Complete Third Season
07/27 - Family Ties - The Complete Series (2021 Release)
07/27 - Hot in Cleveland - The Complete Series (2021 Release)
07/27 - The Neighborhood - Season Three
08/20 - The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet - Deluxe Edition (100 Episodes) (Time Life)
08/20 - The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet - Standard Edition (50 Episodes) (Time Life)
08/24 - The Jim Gaffigan Show - Season 2
09/07 - Young Sheldon - The Complete Fourth Season (Blu-ray)
10/19 - Maude - The Complete Series (2021 Release)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

10/19 - One Final Family Reunion on Netflix; Apple TV+ Announces Premiere Date for Harriet the Spy
10/18 - GAC Family Acquires Classic Sony Sitcoms; Remembering Betty Lynn from The Andy Griffith Show
10/17 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of October 18, 2021)
10/16 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Could a Looming Strike Shut Down TV Production?; GAC Family Acquires Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, Silver Spoons, and More
10/15 - Dickinson Final Season Date Announced; Superstar: Robin Williams to Air Next Week (Oct. 20)
10/14 - Antenna TV's Bewitched 24-Hour Halloween Marathon; Rewind TV's Sabrina Witch-O-Ween Marathon
10/13 - Head of the Class Reboot Premieres Nov. 4, Guest Stars Robin Givens; The Bear Coming to FX
10/12 - CBS Picks Up First 2 New Series for Full Seasons; On My Block Spinoff Series Cast Set
10/11 - Netflix Orders That '90s Show Featuring Red and Kitty; Nash Bridges Movie Premieres Nov. 27 on USA Network
10/10 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of October 11, 2021)
10/09 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Netflix Orders That '70s Show Spinoff Featuring Debra Jo Rupp and Kurtwood Smith; Nash Bridges Revival Movie Premiere Date Set
10/08 - Fri-Yay: CBS’s Ghosts Is the Most Interesting New Comedy of the Year; Insecure to Hold Festival for Final Season
10/07 - Mini Desperate Housewives Reunion on Hallmark Christmas Movie; The Kids Tonight Show Premieres Oct. 14
10/06 - And Just Like That... We Get a Premiere Date; The CW Holiday Specials Schedule
10/05 - New Peanuts Holiday Special on Apple TV+, PBS to Air Classic Holiday Specials; COZI TV Acquires Heartland
10/04 - Disney Channel Orders Season 5 of Raven's Home; Freeform Picks Up Phoebe Robinson Comedy
10/03 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of October 4, 2021)
10/02 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 11 Premiere Date Set; Lori Loughlin Returns to TV Role
10/01 - Fri-Yay: The Fall 2021 Sitcom Line-up Is Pretty Bare; Bounce Renews Johnson for Season 2
09/30 - It's a Wonderful Lifetime Expands with 35 New Movies; Hulu & Lifetime Acquire Castle
09/29 - Curb Your Enthusiasm Returns Yet Again; Archer Returning for Lucky Season 13 on FXX
09/28 - Nick at Nite Acquires Mike & Molly; NBC Orders Night Court to Series
09/27 - MeTV Network Halloween Schedule; HBO Max Renews The Other Two for Third Season
09/26 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of September 27, 2021)
09/25 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Night Court Reboot Gets Series Order; Season Premiere Date Set for The Orville
09/24 - Fri-Yay: Ted Lasso Wins Big at The Emmys; CBS Expands Ghosts Premiere to One-Hour; Remembering Willie Garson of Sex and the City, Director Jay Sandrich
09/23 - TBS, TNT and truTV Launch Fall-O-Ween, a Programming Block of Halloween Classics; HBO Max Comedy from Mindy Kaling Debuts November 18
09/22 - Paramount+ Renews Rugrats for 2nd Season; Eva Longoria Producing Disney Sci-Fi Comedy
09/21 - Family Guy, King of the Hill, The Cleveland Show and Futurama Joining FXX; HBO Max's Ten Year Old Tom Details
09/20 - 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards Winners; Turner Celebrates Latinx Heritage Month with George Lopez, Tacoma FD and More
09/19 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of September 20, 2021)